Math Meets Homebuilding: How Do Homebuilders Use Math in Their Careers?

Discover How Expert Construction Workers Count on Mathematics

In the "Math Meets Homebuilding" episode of Math at Work, Sarah and Ricco, both students in New Orleans, meet Ty Pennington, host of ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Ty helps the students get answers to the question “How do homebuilders use math?” by working with them on a house-in-progress in New Orleans. When constructing the house, the builders need to take into consideration the amount of sun and shade, along with the potential effects of hurricanes and flooding.

According to Ty, “Math makes the impossible, possible.” Not sure you agree? Watch this video and share it with students to see what Ty’s talking about. Then, take a look at the lessons below that give students hands-on experience with related math concepts.


The Math at Work web series features industry leaders who work directly with a range of real students to demonstrate the industry-spanning power and importance of real-life math.

Sarah is a seventh grader who wants to study architecture, and Ricco is a tenth grader who wants to become a math teacher. Alongside Ty, a professional carpenter, they get hands-on experience with mathematics in building construction, with additional guidance from Katherine O’Bryon and Cesar Rodriguez, members of a local nonprofit.

How do homebuilders use math in their careers? Ty says, “Mathematics plays an intricate role for every team member involved in building a home,” including architects, carpenters, engineers, and project managers. Sarah learns a bit about how it all works by focusing on how many solar panels are needed—and will fit!—based on the desired energy output for the house. Ricco figures out how much aggregate and cement is needed to create the pervious concrete to be used in the walkway.

Share the video to help students figure out how math lays the groundwork for successful homebuilding. Afterward, have them practice figuring things out themselves with the activities below!

Try These Ready-to-Use Lessons

Why is math crucial to the homebuilding process? Have students complete these lessons to see how it works. Then, consider having them come up with a math-related homebuilding idea of their own design!

Lesson 1: Electric Rates

In this lesson for Grades 4–8, students convert measurement units to find the number of solar panels needed to power a home.

Lesson 2: Green Area

In this activity for Grades 3–7, students use geometric reasoning to see if a number of solar panels can fit on a specific roof.

Lesson 3: Concrete Ratios

In this activity for Grades 6–8, students use ratio reasoning to determine the quantity of pervious concrete needed to build a walkway.

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Learn more about the Math at Work web series, an HMH effort where industry leaders work with real students to demonstrate the importance of learning math.